Time Magazine’s Person of the Year is the whistle-blowers. Those women who have tirelessly and at great personal risk spoken up and out against misogyny. It’s fitting and timely, as the announcement came today on the anniversary of the anniversary of the Ecole Polytechnique massacre, the mass shooting that took place on Dec. 6, 1989 in Montreal that resulted in the deaths of 14 women. Women who died simply because they were women daring to pursue an education in engineering.
I know my daughters like to believe that we live in a post sexist age and certainly there are many in politics and the media who like to push that narrative as well. It sometimes seems to me – an old crone in her early fifties – that the western world at large is almost wholly sold on the notion that women’s struggles are over and any residual resistance stems only from our inability to accept that fact and the playing field as it lies.
But I don’t believe it. There’s more evidence than ever to suggest that women’s rights are not considered the norm in the circles where the rights of everyone are granted.
On paper – here in Canada at any right – women’s rights are assured, but in practice, women are harassed, dismissed, denied, abused and murdered with almost the same impunity as they always have been.
My rights on paper are simply not good enough. Not for me. Not for my daughters.
I have wondered often what it would take for women to at last come together and had hoped it would have a more positive genesis than the election of an in your face misogynist American president, but historical moments are not born out of the positive as often as they are the negative. And if toppling male privilege has to be angry and messy, so be it. Men have had decades – my entire lifetime really – to come to the table on women’s rights on their own and they haven’t done it. If they must be prodded by shame and driven by fear, well, that’s a choice they made.
Women can no longer, nor should they ever go back to being silent. Our bodies belong to us. Decisions concerning our bodies, our sexuality, our choices about everything that directly affects us were never men’s to make. If we have to be angry to make them understand this, we have to be angry.
We are taught as small girls to hide all our negative emotions but angry is not always negative.
Angry is a necessary ingredient for action and in righteousness. My bible is rusty but I am pretty sure Jesus said something to that effect once.
However, my favorite quote about anger, and it’s necessity, comes from Ursula K. Leguin,
“Stay angry, little Meg,” Mrs Whatsit whispered. “You will need all your anger now.”